“Dating & New York” is consciously framed as a modern fairy tale: It opens with a set of watercolor paintings that portray the city in clean, soft textures and a voice-over informing us that “once upon a time” there, two millennials were cursed with the “paradox of choice.” Wendy (Francesca Reale) and Milo (Jaboukie Young-White) connect through a dating app, meet once and then ghost each other. When they finally rendezvous again, Wendy has drawn up a written contract for a “best friends with benefits” arrangement. The two embark on a relationship they refuse to acknowledge as such.
A winning cast helps sell that familiar premise — not just Reale and Young-White, who have definite chemistry and an easy-flowing banter, but also the brassy, scene-stealing Catherine Cohen, as Jessie, a friend of Wendy’s and the new girlfriend of Milo’s friend Hank (Brian Muller). This fantasized New York is, as the characters acknowledge, a small world.
Stylistically, “Dating & New York,” a first feature from the writer-director Jonah Feingold, insists on selling its charm. The peppy, fast-paced cutting and constant references to Instagram and podcasts — the movie wouldn’t want you to forget it’s about millennials (or clichés about millennials) — nudge viewers to laugh, as if Feingold were employing the directorial equivalent of push alerts. And for all the tech, the New York of “Dating & New York” feels like it’s been formed from hazy impressions of a less overloaded, less distractible era. The film does score, though, with a one-liner about a man who would lie about his age to land on a “30 under 30” list.
Dating & New York
Rated PG-13. Dating and New York. Running time: 1 hour 31 minutes. In theaters and available to rent or buy on Apple TV, Google Play and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators.
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